I am amazed at people who can remember things. I don’t mean things like where the TV remote is or where the car is parked, although I am impressed with those abilities as well. I mean the ability to remember lengthy things of substance.
Let me give you an example.
On the wife’s birthday we went on an architectural boat tour up and down the Chicago River. The personable and entertaining guide spoke for ninety minutes about particular buildings. He named the architects and the companies they worked for, the years they were built, historical developments, all kinds of information and tasty tidbits.
For the life of me, I cannot understand how someone can do that. How could he retain all that information and then deliver it in so natural a manner that it seemed like he was speaking extemporaneously?
I know, I know. He has a love of the subject and he studied and crammed and practiced and has done it so many times that he has it down pat. I think that’s called ‘learning’.
Learning has always been a difficult task for me to undertake, much less master, so it remains a bit of a foreign concept.
Some people actually like this guy’s singing style….
All that I learned in school was accomplished through osmosis. Somehow, stuff seeped in when I thought I wasn’t paying attention. And I wasn’t paying attention most of the time.
Hence, I was a Straight D student all through my school years. I hardly even tried.
In high school I had a “Zero Hour” Spanish class. That meant it started at 7:30 a.m.! Usually, all I heard was “Wake up, Señor Siergey.” But there was this one time when I decided to participate.
We were given a poem to memorize and recite. I was determined to pull this off in flying colores. I studied and practiced until I could recite it without missing a beat. I could deliver it rat-a-tat-tat like a machine gun or smooth and lilting like Perry Como lazing on an Acapulco beach. I did it so well and in so many ways that I could have been a finalist for a Grammy in the spoken word category.
I was that good.
Senor Siergey in high school….
To my shock and chagrin, recitation was never requested. In fact, the subject was never even broached again! Did I dream this assignment up (possibly) or was it just a cruel cosmic joke? I had finally put all my energy toward something in the school arena only to discover that, while everyone else sat in their underwear, I arrived fully dressed for a test that was not going to be given.
However, I have not let this effort go to waste. Many a time in the ensuing years I have recited it aloud just for the heck of it. It has come in handy on occasions when I needed to feign the inability to speak English.
In fact, I can still recite it to this day. If you’d like me to prove it, just name the time and place and I’ll meet you there. Fast and furious, suave and smooth, on a boat, with a goat—any way you want it, baby. I’ll strut my stuff.
Estando Adelita, bordado corbatas…
Editor’s Note: Jim‘s last post for The Third City was Silence Made a Pencil Glow….
Not sure if you’ve been paying attention, but so far this offseason the White Sox and Cubs each have taken giant leaps toward the 2014 Fall Classic.
The White Sox made a splash by signing Cuban slugger Jose Dariel Abreu, who is so formidable that he requires three names.
Abreu is a product of the complex trade relationship we have with our neighbors to the south, which boils down to “we won’t give you squat but we’re happy to take your baseball players if they can make it here.”
Because Abreu is from Cuba, where competition is spotty and statistics don’t translate very well, most of what we know about him comes from rumor and legend.
Like the time Abreu broke his bat and didn’t have another one so he uprooted a nearby majagua tree. He used it to smash a three run dinger to win the game. To appease environmentalists he later replanted the tree, which magically spawned three others, complete with rope tire swings for the local children to play on.
Remember that name, Sox fans!
A man with raw hitting power and inexplicable powers of regeneration naturally strikes fear into the hearts of opponents. The Detroit Tigers have already given up, trading their star first baseman Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers, effectively conceding the division to the White Sox.
In other moves, the Sox acquired someone called Alex Liddi and another guy called Jake Elmore. Both men presumably play baseball.
The White Sox are still in the market for a catcher, a third baseman, a center fielder, maybe a left fielder, and possibly an upgrade at second and/or shortstop. See you in October, Pale Hose!
Everyone knows the Chicago Cubs have the horses; all they need is someone to lead them out of the corral.
Well, the Cubs all but guaranteed Chicago a World Series next season by signing new manager Rick Renteria. “The Rick” spent last season as the bench coach for the San Diego Padres, a losing ball club that was clearly holding him back.
Poor Rick Renteria probably has no idea of what he’s signed on to….
“We’re going to win 100 games or my name’s not…what’s my name again?” Renteria said at his press conference while picking from his teeth the remains of a Cubs welcome buffet lunch.
As far as players, the pennant-bound Cubs haven’t traded for or signed anyone of note yet this offseason for obvious reasons (they’re stacked!).
We keep hearing about the wealth of young talent the Cubs have in the minor leagues—players like Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, and Albert Almora. But when they’re ready to be promoted, you have to wonder whether the Cubs are even going to need them. That’s why the Cubs are training some of their top hitting prospects also to be batboys and equipment managers just in case.
Expectations really couldn’t be higher. All that’s left for the Cubs to do is prove it on the field.
Speaking of the field, the Wrigley Field renovation project is going along swimmingly, with the city allowing the Cubs to extend construction out over Sheffield Ave. and the team to sell advertising on city streets.
“A team of this caliber deserves the whole city,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel told the press outside of Wrigley Field, before snaring a fluttering pigeon with his forked tongue.
Heading into this offseason I predicted a “Red Line Series” in 2014, and nothing has happened in these early days to dissuade me. Yep, it’s all going according to plan.
Now, if you’ll excuse me while I drink this kool-aid laced with anti-depressants and a mild hallucinogen.
Editor’s Note: Chris‘s last post for The Third City was Dear Disgruntled….
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In the silence of the morning
a dream is suspended…
Yes, like a dew drop
full of expectancy …
waiting to be dropped
by its own weight.
Yes, it moves like the breathing
in out in out in out
between the puff pastry layers
of the memory …
awaiting the bite of the sun.
The eyes open … suddenly
sunlight strikes and the dream
flies like a kite in open air.
Editor’s Note: Beatriz‘s last post for The Third City was Bird’s Dream….
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I think it’s safe to say that every man Jack (and woman Jill) of us has misheard a musical lyric at some point in our lives. There have even been books published about misheard lyrics. In fact, an entire franchise has been built upon people’s aural errors.
The most infamous one is from Jimi Hendrix’s song Purple Haze. At one point he sings “Excuse me while I kiss the sky”. Apparently, a number of people misheard it as “Excuse me while I kiss this guy”. Obviously, those individuals weren’t experienced. Or maybe they were, in a non-psychedelic way.
I’m not one to judge.
I have heard children sing the old nursery rhyme in the following manner:
Mary, Mary/Quite contrary/How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and taco shells…
This adorable mishearing is quite understandable. I mean, who ever heard of a cockleshell? It sounds like something that belongs in the Bondage community.
My childhood misheard lyric stayed with me until well into adulthood. That’s when I discovered that the final line to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was “You’ll go down in history” and not, as I had thought, “You go down and kiss Doreen”.
I figured that Doreen was the hot reindeer chick and Rudy’s reward for saving Christmas was to go give her a big smooch. The fact that I had a little crush on Doreen from The Mickey Mouse Club may have figured into my aural thinking as well.
One of my more bizarre mishearings of lyrics was a line from Simon and Garfunkel’s The Sounds of Silence. The verse is “Silence like a cancer grows”. I listened and listened to that song and I could never make out that particular line. It kept sounding to me like “Silence made a pencil glow”.
Jim’s childhood crush….
One can also mishear something via the act of reading. I recall reading a Super Duck comic as a kid and getting excited about this exotic place the characters were going to visit. In my head I pronounced this written word as IS-LAND. I was quite disappointed to find that this curious-sounding place was nothing more than a palm tree-laden I-LAND. Thus I learned about the nefarious silent S.
A friend of mine revealed to me that when she was a child she pronounced the written word ‘misled’ in her head as MIZE-ULD. I like that pronunciation and I even use it sometimes in this very day and age.
“Hey! You mize-uld me, man!”
So, what about you, O Third City reader? Do you have any adventures in mishearing that you’d care to share? If so, merely jot it down in the Comments section below.
We’ll promise to try to not scoff.
Editor’s Note: Jim‘s last post for The Third City was Dilemma in Denim…
A recent email obtained by the Third City written by an Atlanta Braves executive to a concerned fan.
Dear Disgruntled Braves Fan,
I write in response to your email in which you voice concerns about the Braves good standing in the community after last week’s announcement of our move to Cobb County, Georgia.
You say that you’ve been a fan since you were a boy growing up in Boston. That’s great! Of course, that would make you pretty old. I hope you’re keeping healthy, fit, and regular (if not, try fiber).
Yes, we’ve moved around a lot as a franchise, but I assure you it’s only because we haven’t had to pay for it. As you know, we were in Boston until 1953, before Milwaukee came calling with a brand new stadium built by the county. Those were good times, but thirteen years later we were wooed from Milwaukee by a new ballpark built by the city of Atlanta. Then the city built us another new stadium in 1996.
Our lease with Atlanta is up in 2016, and naturally we want the city to give us more mon…ahem, I mean invest more in all the tourism and jobs the Braves have brought to Atlanta. But the mayor instead wants to invest $250 million in infrastructure improvements and neighborhoods, blah, blah, blah.
Thankfully, Cobb County is offering us $300 million plus other perks to build a $672 million stadium outside of Atlanta.
Did you know that the Cobb County School Board eliminated a bunch of teaching jobs in May and has a reported $86 million dollar budget deficit? So you see, for Cobb County, the Braves are more important than schools! It’s nice to feel wanted.
It’s been all downhill for the Braves since they left Milwaukee, taking Hank Aaron with them!
Over the last sixty years, we’ve benefited from about eight-hundred million inflation-adjusted dollars in stadium construction financing from three local governments. I don’t think any other Major League Baseball team can beat that! It’s nice to be top dog.
In return, the Braves have provided (a) an opportunity for upper middle-class consumers to provide us with revenue and (b) a promise never to leave town unless we get a better offer.
In all these years we’ve never failed to make good on these promises. That’s because here at the Braves organization, we take integrity very seriously, just like we do tradition. “Integrity and Tradition” is, like, our motto (actually I have to check that, if not it should be).
Consider the tradition just in our name. Speaking of which, “Braves” just celebrated its hundred-year anniversary! In 1912, we decided to bestow great honor on Native Americans by calling our team the Braves (our old name, the Beaneaters, was kind of offensive to Bostonians). Later we would further honor American Indians with our mascot, Chief Noc-A-Homa, who emerged from his teepee in the stands and performed a dance after every Braves home run.
And I assure you that, despite our move, the Braves will continue our long tradition of honoring Native Americans by invoking mass chants at games of “ohhhh, woahhh, woahhhoho…” while swinging our arms in a chopping motion. And let’s not forget our logo, which honors American Indians by displaying a menacing tomahawk made of sharp stone and twine.
With clout like this, you’d figure the Braves could pay for their own damn stadium!
Meanwhile, we’ll continue to maintain the integrity and tradition of baseball as it was played by our forebears. If there is a lesson to be taught in the proper way of going about your baseball business, the Braves are the ones to teach it! Lately we’ve had to throw baseballs and yell at a few Latin American players for disrespecting opponents with their bat-flipping and exuberant celebrations. You see, they come from poorer countries where people have more fun doing things other than buying stuff. But that “Latin flair” has no place in our game, and they’re going to have to learn to assimilate.
I’m a little worried about what you might think of me right now, and I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. I don’t have anything against people of color or foreigners or disadvantaged people of any kind. I’ve shaved my head for charity, ok? It’s on my Facebook page.
Anyways, I hope that I’ve adequately addressed your concerns about the franchise. We certainly value your enthusiasm for the Braves and look forward to rewarding that loyalty for many years to come (if you keep up with that fiber diet I was telling you about).
Senior Executive Vice President
Atlanta National League Baseball Club, Inc.
P.S. Have a dinger of a day!
Editor’s Note: Chris‘s last post for The Third City was Roids & Noids….
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I lost a pair of pants.
Alas, not in any kind of amorous escapade with a husband coming up the stairs and me jumping out the window kind of way. I’ve lost them in a mundane how the hell could they disappear kind of way.
Now, I do own more than two pairs of pants although I generally rotate between only two. (Obviously, the term Beau Brummel will never be pinned on me.) This means, of course, that the other pants that I rarely wear hang in the closet for years until they inexplicably shrink a size or two. Then I have to move them waaay in the back of the closet with the rest of the clothes that I hope will one day magically fit me again.
I should add that when I say pants, I am speaking of jeans. The pants that hang in my closet are non-jeans. I’m not sure of the correct term—chinos, Dockers, dress pants? I call them pants-with-pockets-from-which-items-easily-fall-when-seated. That’s quite a mouthful. No wonder I hardly wear them. When I do, they are worn to weddings, funerals and fancy gatherings or what I consider a fancy gathering—like a restaurant with linen tablecloths.
Where are my pants!!! (Illustration by Jim Siergey.)
Otherwise, I’m a jean man, blue jeans. I have black jeans too. They are, when I can get away with it, my dress pants. Comfort is not only my middle name, it is also my my first and last.
The pair of blue jeans that I was currently wearing got soaked in the rain the night before plus I had been wearing them for a week or more so they went into the laundry. I had an appointment this morning so, after stepping out of my faded, ripped up, knock around the house jeans and donning a black dress shirt, I went into my closet to retrieve my other pair of dress (meaning not faded and full of holes) jeans.
To my astonishment, they were nowhere to be found! I looked in every obvious and non-obvious place I could think of and they remained unfound. I proceeded to look in these very same places three more times and received the same result. (Some say repeating the same action over and over is a sign of insanity. I call it super-sized scrutiny.) It was getting late so I had to halt my hunting and resort to my black jeans.
This meant that I would be clad entirely in ebon but since it was The Day of the Dead, I felt that my attire was apropos.
When they turn this tale into a movie, Brando will play the lead….
I went to my appointment, returned home and continued my pursuit of the purloined pantaloons. (You’ll have to excuse me, I tend to get overly dramatic in moments like these). We were recently on vacation so I trudged to the attic to check suitcases. Perhaps they were overlooked when I emptied them.
Nope, the suitcases were filled with nothing but air but there were plenty of other things up there to temporarily divert my attention—boxes of comic books, for example. An hour later, I descended to the main floors, smelling sprightly of old newsprint and mothballs but still no wiser as to where my second pair of jeans were.
Where, oh where could these accursed dungarees be? They seem to have gone the way of unmatched socks, misplaced spectacles, lost dogs and broken dreams. True, they were pants but, still, they couldn’t just get up and walk away. They weren’t that dirty.
I’m even beginning to question if there ever was a second pair. This uncertainty is certainly getting the best of me. Ye gods, I can feel myself slipping away! My breathing is getting heavy. I’m perspiring profusely. I can’t stop clawing at my chest. Everything is getting dark.
The horror! The horror!
Postscript: Police responded to a neighbor’s concerned call and entered the domicile of a Mr. James Siergey. They found the occupant curled up in a corner hugging a Joseph Conrad novel. Next to him was a portable CD player with the song “Trouser Press” by The Bonzo Dog Band set to Replay at the highest volume. Entering behind them was a woman claiming to be his wife. She proceeded to shut off the ear-splitting music, grab the semi-conscious Mr. Siergey by the front his shirt and slap him smartly across his face. She then marched him upstairs where the officers heard her say “Here they are.” Police vacated the premises to the sounds of gleeful sobbing emanating from above.
Editor’s Note: Jim‘s last post for The Third City was Weird with a Beard…
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“Let’s organize a block party!” my wife excitedly said to me one day.
I immediately gave her two reasons why we shouldn’t.
First of all, it was already late in the summer, so I thought it would be tough to organize it before the weather turned cold.
Plus, I’ve never even seen about 90% of the people who live on our block, and I doubted any of them would care enough to show-up.
For a native optimist, I can sometimes be quite unsupportive, especially when first presented with a new idea. Maybe it’s a defense mechanism to protect myself from doing something spontaneously stupid.
My wife pressed me for dates, and I somewhat begrudgingly agreed to one.
Our next-door neighbor, Daryl, offered to help plan. He went to get the permit from the alderman’s office, and learned that we were allowed to block the street for twelve hours starting at 10:00 AM.
That weekend we hand-delivered the fliers that my wife had printed, ringing the doorbells of the single-family homes on our side of the street and the three-flats on the other side.
It was a block party — just like Dave Chappelle’s!
I had to use my Spanish skills a few times. But that didn’t help when we came to the Indian, Pakistani and Middle Eastern households that didn’t speak English very well, and where the concept of a BYOB potluck block party didn’t seem to sink in.
On the morning of the party, I went with my wife and our 6-month old daughter to the annual Andersonville garage sale, an event dense with quality goods at bargain prices that we vowed never to miss.
When we returned home around noon, Daryl had already put garbage cans at the ends of the street with caution tape, and had set up a large white event tent. To my disbelief, there were only two cars parked on the entire block, when on a normal day there are fifty. The neighborhood kids were riding their bikes and running all around.
By mid afternoon the last two cars left, and there were a hundred people hanging out. Not a bad turnout for the first block party in decades.
The very people who I thought wouldn’t even show up ended up bringing huge platters food, and collectively we created an international feast.
When the Chicago Fire Department arrived, sirens blaring, the kids raced from all directions to climb inside and get behind the wheel for photos.
At the end of the night my wife was calling out bingo numbers by streetlight to people lined up on the curb vying for the jackpot.
I really need to start saying yes to my wife’s ideas more often, she comes up with some pretty damn good ones!
Editor’s Note: Grabowski‘s last post for The Third City was The King….
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